Former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey has suggested that she will U-turn and back Theresa May’s Brexit deal when it returns to the Commons for a third time next week.
Esther McVey The former DWP Secretary agreed she could feel forced to support the divisive planCredit: PA Images
In a major boost for the PM, the former Cabinet minister – who quit in November over the agreement – said MPs would need to back it to see Brexit through.
Speaking to BBC’s Nick Robinson’s Political Thinking podcast, the staunch Brexiteer heavily hinted that she will vote in favour of the deal, which she criticised on leaving her post as failing to honour the 2016 referendum result.
She added that more Tory MPs are likely to “hold up their noses and vote”.
“Yes they will, I don’t know what the number is, but they will have to do that if they therefore now want Brexit, because of what has happened,” she said.
“What happened in the House yesterday and the day before shows that without doubt we don’t have a Prime Minister who believed no-deal was better than a bad deal.
“We’ve got a Prime Minister who’s saying a deal at any cost and that could be chucking Brexit under a bus.”
Conservative colleague James Gray also told the BBC he will now endorse the Prime Minister’s “obnoxious” deal after a “great deal of soul-searching”.
It is not yet confirmed on which day the third meaningful vote will be held next week.
Elsewhere Ms McVey said frontbenchers who defied the Government’s three-line whip to effectively support a no-deal Brexit earlier in the week “can’t stay”.
Amber Rudd and David Gauke were among 13 members of the Government who abstained, but who were then reportedly told by an aide to the PM that they would keep their jobs.
The former minister added: “I think where you saw people not adhering to collective responsibility they can’t remain in cabinet, you can’t rip up the rulebook.
“Destroying democracy, destroying trust with the public, we cannot do.”
The intervention comes as Theresa May ramps up efforts to bring at least 75 MPs onside to back her deal ahead of next week’s crunch-time ballot.
MPs passed a motion calling for an extension to Article 50 on Thursday night, which will seek to move the UK’s exit from the European Union up to 30 June – if Mrs May’s deal gains a majority in the next attempt in Parliament.
If her third bid fails however the Prime Minister has warned the delay could be as long as two years and result in the UK having to take part in May’s EU Parliament elections.